Those who read my stuff must know I’m pretty perfect. Coming up with a list of New Year’s resolutions really scrapes the bottom of the barrel. Last year’s number one was “Clip toenails before a hole appears in your socks.” This year I’ve taken a different tack. This year, I’m making a list of things the world (and perhaps some of you) can do to make my life easier.
Stop Leaky Gas Lamps
Have you ever been walking and suddenly smelled a waft of natural gas? You look around trying to figure out where it’s coming from and you see it. Someone’s fancy-schmancy gas porch lantern has blown out in the wind, spraying gas into the atmosphere. I used to walk past the old Old Warsaw restaurant on Maple and invariably several of their unlit lamps were belching out gas. I called the city. Nothing. I called the gas company. Nothing. I called the restaurant. Nothing. This went on for years. Lord knows how much global warming is down to them.
Natural (and gastro-intestinal) gas is primarily methane, which traps 34 times the heat in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide for the first 100 years. CO2 dissipates quicker than methane, so for the first 20 years, methane is actually trapping 86 times the heat in the atmosphere.
Even if the gas is burned, gas lanterns contribute to greenhouse gas buildup. But when those flames are blown out and the gas is released unburned, they’re really, really bad. Every gas lamp owner needs to retrofit a safety shut-off valve with a thermocouple to their lamps. It senses when the flame is out and turns the gas off. It’s a cheap and easy fix for neighborhood “ye who smelt it dealt it.”
Report Water Leaks
I walk a lot. You’d be amazed how many times I see leaking water cascading down streets or ponding on lawns. At least once per walk. Seriously. Sometimes it’s a municipal issue, sometimes it’s the owner. But they have one thing in common — they waste a boat-load of water. Have we forgotten the last drought so quickly?
If you see a leak, call the city. In Dallas, call 311. In the Park Cities, call their city or town hall. Even on the weekends. It doesn’t take a minute to tell them there’s a leak at such-and-such place. Frankly the cops should also be encouraged to report leaks too (they don’t seem to). I mean they’re driving around, how hard can it be?
And sometimes, it’s more than a leak. What got me started reporting was that I walked past a wet sidewalk (Wycliff and Cedar Springs) for well over a year and never did a thing. I kept thinking someone else would notice. When I finally called, it resulted in the closure and excavation of a lane of traffic for over a week while what was probably a sinkhole-in-training was repaired.
Unlike a lot of city services, water leaks are taken seriously. Your call will not go down the drain. Even on weekends, they’ll get someone, probably that day out to fix the problem. It’s not often you feel like part of the solution when dealing with the city.
Stop Making Slim-Fit Shirts
I survived skinny jeans by simply not buying any. Withered legs was never something I aspired to. Then designers figured, if men could be fooled into wearing girdle-pants, what discomfort is next? Now all the best designs, fabrics and patterns in men’s shirts are slim fit. (I know, no sympathy from the ladies who’ve been trussed-up for centuries)
The only option is to buy larger shirts. The problem is that while the shirt got skinny, the collar size didn’t. If it fits in the waist and chest, the oversized collar makes me look like an understudy in an Elizabethan play.
Stop making slim fit shirts. There’s enough heartache in the world.
Pre-Shrink The Effing Cotton
A corollary to slim fit shirts are clothing makers that don’t pre-shrink their fabrics, specifically cotton. I recall in my youth that pre-shrunk was a wonderful thing to see on a tag. It meant that if it fit in the store, it would still fit after the first wash.
Clothing designers seem to have forgotten this. You’d think that expensive clothing would have less of these problems since the oversized profit margins would allow them to pre-wash with abandon. No. They’re worse. It’s like they want you to buy the right size, wash/shrink it and then return to buy a second one two sizes larger. Is that why pets are dressing like people? Their owner’s clothes shrank enough to fit the dog?
And no, I see your mind working, cotton isn’t a dry clean fabric.
Homes That Back-up To A Nature Reserve or Trail And Have Eight-Foot Fences
Walking the Northaven Trail is a little like walking down a cattle shoot to slaughter. First, there’s barely a shrub offering shade from the blistering sun (power lines, I sorta get it). But the big oddity for me is seeing the wall of eight-foot fences on either side barricading homes from the trail.
We Yankees understand that a trail, forest preserve or park is an amenity. We pay extra for the extra-long views. Not so in Dallas. I understand that before the trail, the utility access was probably not too pretty, but so many of the fences lining the Northaven Trail are new. I would safely bet there are fewer than five homes whose backyards include a see-through fence giving them the long-view.
One open yard stood out, it was a complete entertainment yard – pool, outdoor kitchen, the works. The homeowners had great views they didn’t have to mow. They could watch withered walkers straining for breath while sitting in the pool with a beer. Hallucinating, sweat-soaked walkers would have the comfort of an oasis mirage as they trudged on. Everybody wins.
I walk a lot (sensing a theme here?) and a lack of sidewalks annoy me. I’ve never seen the like of it. It’s galling on major roads, especially when passing commercial space (hint-hint Dallas Country Club, Highland Park Village) that should be the first place for a sidewalk. It’s super galling when walking through scrubby grass and litter past an in-process McMansion that clearly has no plans to install a sidewalk.
From picking up undies to putting the seat up, few volunteer to do what’s not required. So hey, City Council, in 2018, why not mandate sidewalks on all new construction or building permits over $50,000? Double-down and require porous materials so they’re OK for the environment. Seems a no-brainer, right up your alley.
School Speed Zones
School speed zones were instituted to save tykes’ from disaster as they gamboled about before and after school. But come on, what child walks to school these days? What began as safety has become a speed trap. I challenge you … count the number of times there is a single child within sight as you teeter along at 20 miles per hour. I’ll answer for you. You’ve probably seen Bigfoot more often.
Women Should Give-way As Much As Men On Sidewalks
Finally ladies, this one’s for you. If two men are walking side-by-side towards two women, also side-by-side, why is it the men who are expected to single-file or walk on the grass/street? Ladies seem to barely notice and certainly rarely go single-file.
I get the whole outdated chivalry thing but if both men and women were to walk single file in these situations, no one would have to walk in the dirt.
This is to say nothing of the dog walkers with extraordinarily long leashes, parents with semi-trailer strollers or bike riders on sidewalks when there’s a dedicated bicycle lane.
“We call that checked baggage” is something I tell those who try to enlist my help shoving an elephant into an overhead bin on an airplane. If you can’t lift it, check it. If the baggage fee is enough to keep you from traveling, don’t travel or fly Southwest. So in 2018, stop bruising my shoulders as you try to drag umpteen pounds of junk down an 18-inch aisle to your row 42 seat. Check it. Oh, and get off the phone while you do it.
And so dear readers, if you could just work on these nine things, my 2018 will be a whole lot easier.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. If you’re interested in hosting a Candysdirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016 and 2017, the National Association of Real Estate Editors has recognized my writing with two Bronze (2016, 2017) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make? Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.